Have you ever seen a stray cat while you're out and about and wondered what you should do? It can be hard to know if you should approach the cat or leave it alone, especially if they are not wearing a collar and you're not sure if it's someone's pet. Keep reading as we cover how to properly handle and interact with stray cats as well as ways you can make a difference.
STRAY VS. FERAL CATS
You may have heard the term "stray" and "feral" used interchangeably, but there is a difference between stray and feral cats. Stray cats are felines who have been socialized and are comfortable around people. Feral cats, on the other hand, are not used to interacting with humans and are used to living on their own in the outdoors.
How are you able to tell if a cat is stray or feral? It can be hard to tell simply by observing a cat, so it may depend on how the cat is acting around you. Stray cats may approach people or people's houses, meow, make eye contact, and will overall act more friendly towards you than a feral cat will. Feral cats will likely keep their distance or hide from people.
PROBLEMS WITH STRAY AND FERAL CATS
One big problem with stray and feral cats is overpopulation. There are between 60 and 100 million feral cats in the U.S. alone, according to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Many times, feral cats are the result of abandoned or lost cats who have kittens that are not raised around people. Because female cats can start getting pregnant as young as 16 weeks old, they can easily give birth to multiple litters in their lifetime.
Stray and feral cats also don't live in ideal conditions. They usually reside in abandoned buildings and lots and eat from trash cans. This puts them at risk of various infections and diseases. Poor living conditions and diet, along with females experiencing multiple pregnancies, make the lifespan very short for stray and feral cats – usually only around two or three years.
WHY AND HOW YOU SHOULD HELP
You may thing that stray and feral cats aren't a big problem in your area. However, it is something that can get out of control very quickly if you aren't aware of the best practices for preventing cats from overrunning your area. There are several things you can do:
OTHER WAYS TO HELP
Ready to make a difference in the lives of the strays you see around your home? Continue to education yourself and consider finding ways to volunteer your time to care for them!
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